Mumbai's monsoon preparedness remains ignored in political war

Even as the onset of monsoon is not far too away, the monsoon preparedness work is hardly complete and the city of Mumbai is most likely to face another deluge like last year.

Published: 16th May 2018 06:49 PM  |   Last Updated: 16th May 2018 06:49 PM   |  A+A-

Image for representational purpose only. | EPS

Express News Service

MUMBAI: Even as the onset of monsoon is not far too away, the monsoon preparedness work is hardly complete and the city of Mumbai is most likely to face another deluge like last year where a veteran doctor had lost his life. However, the people's representatives who have been entrusted with the civic body are engaged in the political war over the unfinished work instead of hastening to finish the work.

Mumbai mayor Vishwanath Mahadeshwar, after reviewing the stormwater drainage cleaning work on Wednesday, remarked that hardly half of the work is complete and if the work is found to be incomplete during the next review, which would be conducted after 10 days, the civic body shall act tough against the contractors. 

However, the Mumbai mayor also trained guns against the state government. "Various agencies are working in the city. For Metro lines the city had been dug up at several places. If that causes water logging, the responsibility shall lie solely with the state government," Mahadeshwar said.

Many stormwater drain lines have been destroyed while digging for the metro and other construction activities, the Mumbai Mayor said while trying to shirk away the responsibility on the shoulders of the civic body.

While the Mayor, who belongs to the Shiv Sena, was busty blaming the state government run by the BJP, an NCP corporator from central suburb of Kurla staged a hunger protest outside the civic commissioner's office. Though funds worth crores spent for cleaning the Mithi river in the city, there is hardly any change in the condition of the river, said the corporator Dr Saeeda Khan.

"Even after the court ordered the BMC to construct retaining wall in 2005, the work has not yet been completed. Piling work is going on to build the wall. The incomplete work of piling is so shoddy that it has created more mess around the area near the river. If not cleaned, the mess could lead to havoc during the monsoon," Khan said.

Clogging of the 15-km river was considered as one of the major factors responsible for the 2005 Mumbai deluge. The river, which originates at the Vihar lake, traverses areas like Powai, Saki Naka, Kurla, Kalina, Vakola and BKC, before flowing into Mahim creek in the city. Its width varies between 25 metres and 75 metres during the entire course.

In a study conducted earlier this year, the BMC had identified a total of 225 flood-prone areas, including 60 chronic ones that flood annually, in the city. Of the 225 areas, 17 are currently congested due to construction under the public works department, Mumbai Metropolitan Region Development Authority and the railway authorities among others, the civic body had said.

However, the railway officials, who also participated in the review of monsoon preparedness said that 25 spots within the jurisdiction of CR's Mumbai division had been identified for immediate attention. They also said that they want the civic body to increase their pumping capacity at crucial spots like the Kurla, Sion and Mankhurd to 1000 cubic metre per hour.

The BMC has also planned along with Pune based Indian Institute of Tropical Meteorology (IITM) to install around 250 automatic rain gauges in as many places across the city which are expected to update the latest rainfall statistics automatically every 15-20 minutes. This one project if successful would be of immense help to the civic administration and the hence the citizens during monsoon.

Amongst the other preparations, the BrihanMumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) has for the first time released a list of neap tide days when the difference between low and high tides is not much and the discharge of storm water into the sea is very slow. Similar to the effects of high tide days (when the sea level is above 4.5m), neap tide days can also lead to excessive flooding. There are seven neap tide days and 24 high tide days this monsoon. The 333mm of rainfall, along with the neap tide had led to excessive flooding on August 29 last year claiming 14 lives and 12 were missing.

Apart from updating the control room, the BMC has launched a separate hotline for its various consultants during the time of emergency. A separate whatsapp group too has been formed for them to receive latest updates on traffic diversions, rainfall, and routes to avoid, among other things during emergencies. 

The SOPs too are being reviewed after which all the agencies would be briefed on that, a senior officer from the BMC said adding that the efforts are in a full swing to avoid floodings during this monsoon.

Most flood-prone spots determined by BMC for Monsoon 2018

Bandra (East)
Goregaon (West) and
Borivli (West)

Neap tide days in Monsoon 2018

June 7
July 7
August 19 & 20
September 17, 18 & 19

Mumbai Rainfall in past five years

2013 - 3347.28mm
2014 - 2583.52 mm
2015 - 1601.15 mm
2016 - 2796.41 mm
2017 - 3123.77 mm

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